Monday, November 12, 2012

Long Weekend, First Snow and Zabar's Plus

First snow on the mountains this year! View from the dog park

We had an all around rough week last week that left us exhausted, thankful for our wonderful lives and appreciating each day together. We were both exhausted and so relieved after the stressful evening Tuesday (I don't think we even realized how stressed we were until we woke up so happy on Wednesday with a huge weight off of our shoulders). Andrew came down with a nasty bug that kept him up all night on Wednesday and led to a trip to the emergency room Thursday night. And, we received heart breaking news about a beloved and amazing aunt who passed away this weekend. Yeah, it's been a rough one.

Luckily we had a long weekend to recover. We slept an insane amount - starting Friday night when I went to bed at 7:30 - and laid around a lot, and cuddled with the dog girls, and talked about our next adventures. A year ago at this time we were in Nicaragua, and we are seriously missing the beach.

Such a sweet husband...

We woke up to the first snow of the year on Saturday morning. Up until this weekend, it has been in the 60s and 70s, and we have still been wearing sandals and summer outfits. Now it really feels like winter, and the holidays are just around the corner.

In between all the sleeping, dreaming of beaches, and talking about when the ski resort may open this year, we had a nice little birthday dinner for Andrew. We called it Zabar's plus because we had our normal Zabar's dinner PLUS steak on the salt block. We received a salt block as a gift for our wedding. I had never heard of it before, and honestly, it seemed pretty weird. But, we've figured out how to use it properly, and now that we've used it quite a bit, the food we cook on it is gaining more and more flavor. We bought a rib eye steak from the Whole Foods and sliced it into strips. We could each cook the strips to our desired rareness. So good!!

We drank Gruet sparkling wine and a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier, which has a special place in my nostalgic heart. I drank it when I was in college, and the year I taught in France, when my mom was visiting, we visited the winery. I told the woman that we drank her wine in Minneapolis and loved it, and she was so pleased. Unfortunately, this wine is now $19.99 per bottle, and while it is a fine wine, it really isn't worth that much. I knew it when I bought it, but I ran into it at the liquor store, right next to the Château de Flaugergues of all wines - a winery that is just outside of Montpellier where I studied abroad. A huge nostalgic ka-bam! I couldn't resist!!

We spent today eating greasy hamburgers and taking a long walk in Diablo Canyon with the girls. We haven't been back there since Lola's surgery, and she did great! We were reminded of how happy we are that she had her surgery and is back to normal.

We'll go back to work tomorrow well rested and extra thankful for all of the blessings we have in life.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's November...

Thanksgiving 2005 in Taos

And you know what that means - Thanksgiving menu planning! I usually scour the bon appétit and blogs for new ideas, but since we missed Thanksgiving dinner last year while we were in Nicaragua, I want to go with our traditional favorites. I'm going to research new appetizers, but the rest is going to be our tried and true favs.

2012 Thanksgiving Menu Chez MeghAndrew 

Appetizers - TBD, but we'll probably serve at least one of the usual suspects
Apéritif - Gruet sparkling wine with dancing pomegranate seeds

Salad - Mixed Greens with Blue Cheese, Cranberries and Candied Pecans
(I'm also considering making a New Mexican Christmas Salad since we'll be traveling this year and might not have the chance to make it for Christmas)  

The Ultimate Turkey, obvs... 
Our local coop sells turkeys raised locally, and they are always very tasty.

Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing

Andrew's special Sweet Potatoes - yet to be determined is what letter we'll put on this year... 

Green Bean Casserole - this will actually be new to us this year, but my sister's boyfriend is visiting and has requested it. You know my aversion to cream of xx cans of soup so I'm going to find a recipe that is more appetizing to me. I'm thinking that the pioneer woman's recipe looks promising. Any other ideas, folks?

Rolls - Andrew likes potato rolls but we're also considering making biscuits. I guess this is tbd too...

Dessert - my favorite pumpkin pie and apple pie with cheddar crust. My sister has also requested sweet potato pie with graham cracker crust. I haven't had great luck with graham cracker crusts but we'll see.

And, of course, we're planning a day trip on Friday, which is really just a good excuse for a picnic with our favorite sandwiches and mimosas!

Are you trying anything different this year? What menus are you planning????

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hiya, Sweets!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, sweet hubby- you're the best - the cutest, sexiest, sweetest, smartest, nicest, strongest, darlingest, and did I mention frick frockin' CU-test man I know. Hey, I love you!! Happy 33rd! xoxo

And, Baby Blue Eye would like to remind you, the readers (all eight of you), to VOTE today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

72 Hours in Seattle

We took a quick weekend trip to Seattle for our anniversary this year. It's part of our new plan to lift our self-imposed austerity measures and start spending more money doing fun stuff now instead of holding out for some big thing down the line. It was a ton of fun, and I think we'll start taking more weekend trips.

We picked Seattle because the tickets were pretty cheap, and I had never been. Andrew's family used to live on Bainbridge Island across the Puget Sound from Seattle so we didn't need to do any research or really much planning before we went. We stayed at the Ace Hotel in Belltown and spent all of our time in the downtown area.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

LIfe is Good Today

dans la cuisine

Uffda, it's been a long week - a long several weeks actually. I've been super busy at work, and I haven't had time to cook much. We've been eating out and picking up take out more often than I'd like to admit. This weekend Andrew and Lola headed to the cabin to continue repairs after the break-in.  I wasn't quite ready to go back yet, and I decided to stay home and relax. 

I haven't been sleeping well, and I've been stressed at work so I really just wanted to sleep and recoup this weekend. I haven't had much energy to plan meals let alone cook them, but after 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep on Friday night, I was awake at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. I stayed in bed for a few more hours hanging out with Elsa and thinking about what I was going to COOK! I spent all day today cooking, cooking, cooking! 

I made pasta sauce with Italian sausage and red peppers in the slow cooker, chicken stock for green chile stew and chocolate chip cookies from the Rebar cookbook. It was so fun to spend the whole day in the kitchen chopping, mincing, sautéing, simmering, mixing, baking. I even took a nice little nap during the day's activities, and now I'm watching Amélie and waiting for my loves to come home from Taos. Life is good today!

Tomorrow, I'm going to make the green chile stew and bake a carrot cake with the last of our carrots from the garden. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We Miss You Senator


"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak."
-Paul Wellstone

Today is the tenth anniversary of Paul Wellstone’s death. I remember exactly where I was and how I felt when I heard the news. I was visiting Albuquerque for the first time, and I was on top of the Sandias waiting to take the tram back down. The folks in front of us in line were also from Minnesota, and they asked if we had heard what happened. Our hearts sank, our eyes filled with tears and it felt devastating.

We lost a great leader who fought relentlessly for people, who really cared about people and making our lives better. He inspired so much hope and passion and joy in me and countless others. He championed peace, justice, labor rights, the environment, health care, domestic violence. He was known as the conscience of the Senate. He pushed the dialogue, he fought the unpopular fights and he always did what he believed was right.

We have a photo of him getting off of his green bus in our living room, and I see it every day and remember him and how he still inspires us to follow our passions and live moral and ethical lives.

Monday, October 22, 2012

We're In This Thing Together

We went to the cabin this weekend for relaxing and doing NOTHING after a long week last week. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found out that someone had broken in and stolen a bunch of stuff. They broke one of the huge picture windows in front of the house, and our hearts sank wondering how we would be able to replace it. When we went in the house, everything was torn apart because the burglars went through all of our drawers, boxes and storage. They pulled everything out. They drank two huge bottles of liquor and even finished the tiny bottle of kirsch that I use for fondue. We're not sure how they could even walk after drinking that much. Over the weekend, we slowly realized more and more stuff that is missing, but the big items are the chain saw, my mountain bike and our inverter. We've hypothesized that they broke the big window to get the bike out because they were apparently too drunk to be able to open either of the doors, which were both locked when we arrived.

The whole thing is very upsetting to us, obviously. I feel so violated and disappointed. Our cabin is in a fairly remote and isolated area where there are no building codes, no insurance, no streets, no rules. We're off the grid. We have no utilities or water other than what we catch from our roof. We're only 35 minutes from the pavement, but the mesa is a world of its own that governs itself. We are really out there. I've always felt safe there. People keep to themselves. It's the kind of place people go who want to be left alone. People are friendly enough but the rule of thumb is "arms length." People don't have much - there are folks living out there in harsh conditions in tents and abandoned cars; houses made out of old mattress frames stuffed with mud; shacks that look like they are uninhabitable. Life is hard and challenging. Even so though I've felt safe and secure because people are generally respectful. Because life is so hard out there and people are scraping by, others usually aren't willing to take from someone else to make their life better. We took that feeling for granted. We shouldn't have left the chainsaw in the utility room - it is locked, but easy to get into - and we shouldn't have left the bike up there because now that it is gone, I know it is something we really didn't want to lose.

After we arrived, I kind of freaked out. I wanted to sit down and cry. Andrew went into crisis mode cleaning up glass, taking apart the window frame and being a real "doer." We really are opposites!

We no longer had any tools up there so we headed down the hill to talk to our neighbor who lives out there full time. She's been on the mesa for at least 30 years, and she's great. She, of course, was so disappointed, but then we distracted ourselves seeing her new addition and talking about life on the mesa. Our neighbor told us about some other places that have been robbed, and how people were able to recycle materials and find what they needed to fix the damages. She told us about the old inverter her friend had given her after she lived without one for years when hers was stolen.

She was very concerned for us and offered some glass that she has had sitting out behind her shed for years. Our front window is 76" x 34", and it was custom made by the previous owner. We figured that there was no chance that she'd happen to have a piece of glass that fit the opening, but Andrew measured it anyway and it fit! We went from a feeling of dread for the cost and time of the repair to feeling so relieved. We carried the glass up the hill, and luckily we found some caulking left over from a previous project. Andrew rebuilt the window frame and replaced the glass, and we were back in business in a couple of hours.

We cleaned up the mess and put our stuff away, and we spent the rest of the weekend feeling thankful for the sense that people on the mesa are in this thing together. Even though folks keep to themselves, there is a sense of community spirit and people take care of each other and pull together to make sure everyone gets by. It's a nice feeling.

Although the weekend was much harder than expected, we did have some fun cleaning out a pack rat's nest in our utility room. (Yes, for those of you who know me in real life, I really did just write that.) It really was the highlight of the weekend. Sometimes when you're so upset about something it is such a great feeling to just laugh and laugh at something that seems so random, but it was a good distraction. With the new hole in the side of the house where our inverter had been, a pack rat had a hey day scouring our house for treasures. He built a massive nest, and he filled it with all of the wooden handmade chess pieces that Andrew bought in his travels in South America. We had figured that the burglars took them, but they must have just taken the top off the box, and that pack ratty had lots of fun moving all the pieces out. We also found wooden spoons from the house, measuring cups, tops and lids from bottles and jars, rolls of electrical tape, champagne corks, backgammon pieces, and lots and lots of glass from the broken window. The most dramatic moment was when Andrew moved a roll of tar paper, and he fell out of the end of the tube. There was lots of screaming (me) and very concerned dog girls and lots of laughing at the look on all of our faces when he came shooting out of that tube.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gangnam Style

Boy, we're really getting old. Now we're learning about "new" music on NPR and spending our weekends "deep cleaning." Harumph! But, planet money has come through with a totally awesome and weird (and addictive) link that we just can't get enough of this weekend, in between dusting power strips (seriously??) and mopping under the couch.

Thank you, Zoe Chace!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lucky in Life, Lucky in Love and Wishing you the Same

Hey, I love you!!!
On the ferry from Bainbridge
Happy three years, darlin' darlin'! I'm so happy to be married to you. Joy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hello from Tehran (Seattle)

Little did we know that Seattle is the new Iranian hot spot. How weird is this - Andrew turned on his phone in Seattle this weekend and was greeted with the latest weather from Tehran, which was awfully similar to Seattle...

More to come soon from our amazing weekend getaway in Seattle!

Monday, October 1, 2012

City Mouse Country Mouse Out and About


Andrew and I are opposites in many ways, including city versus country. When we first met, I was a lot more of a city mouse and he was a lot more of a country mouse (a wilderness mouse, really). Over the years, we've both learned to better like the other locale. In my case, I've come to genuinely love spending time in the Nature; and Andrew doesn't hate cities quite as much as he used to. Even though we've both changed, I think we'll always be a city mouse and country mouse at heart, which can make planning vacations kind of challenging. So what are we to do?! We're trying to find the balance of the best of both. First up, we've booked a quick trip to Seattle for our anniversary and then we're headed to Moab this fall.


I've never been to Seattle before, and Andrew hasn't been back since his parents moved away from Bainbridge Island six years ago. I'm looking forward to riding public transit(!), eating fresh seafood, learning to like oysters, an all you can eat cheese buffet(!!!!!!), happy hours, tall buildings, gritty urban scenes, a ferry ride to the island and an underground tour. I can't wait!

And in Moab, I'm looking forward to returning to one of our favorite and most private camping spots of all time, red sand on my skin, stunning views, gritty desert scenes, arches and dinosaur prints, chilly nights with lots of cuddling in the tent, camp fires and greasy hamburgers. I can't wait!

The best of both worlds...

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Two weekends in a row of leaf peeping!

Big views for little dog girl
On top of Deception Peak
Looking down into the Santa Fe watershed
Santa Fe watershed
This weekend we hiked down from Deception Peak through the ski basin. In a few short months we'll be skiing again.

Envisioning skiing through those trees. I will do it this year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Rat-a-Tat-Ouille

Ever since I first saw the movie Ratatouille a few years ago, I've been craving Ratatouille. It's taken me a few years to get around to actually making it because the last time I had Ratatouille, I overdid it. I was living in France at the time, and my friend Rosie made Ratatouille for a Sunday night dinner. It was, of course, a big hit. So much so that we made it again the next weekend, and again the next weekend, and again, and so on. Our addiction got so bad that WE smelled like Ratatouille. As Julia Child says in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Ratatouille "perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence." It sounds romantic, but it's really not fun to smell like the essence of Provence. It took a few weeks to totally rid her apartment and all of our stuff of the smell of Ratatouille. Too much of any good thing can drive you to hate it - lesson learned!

I swore that the last bite I took of Ratatouille eight years ago would be my last forever. UNTIL, I saw Ratatouille! It's taken me five years since I saw the movie to work up the nerve to make it again, and I was so delighted to find Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Ratatouille's Ratatouille! If you've seen the movie, you must remember how gorgeous and enticing that colorful Ratatouille was.

This is a non-traditional Ratatouille recipe - it is actually more of a confit byaldi. It is baked and it doesn't have herbes de provence so you won't smell of their essence. We served it with crusty french bread and goat cheese, and it was perfect.

We broke all of the rules... Oregon pinot noir. Yikes!

Not quite as pretty as Remy's...

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
As envisioned by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant ( “Italian Eggplant” are less than half the size of regular ones and work perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  1. Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
  3. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick. (I used a sharp knife and it was no problem)
  4. Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
  5. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
  6. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tip: cut the parchment paper to fit BEFORE you put the vegetables in the casserole. You can trace the top of the casserole and cut it accordingly if you do it ahead of time. Another lesson learned.)
  7. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
  8. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


We spent a whole glorious week in Minneapolis for Labor Day this year - a whole week of hanging out with my favorite people, relaxing, eating and drinking and enjoying urban living. Santa Fe is the perfect place for us from day to day, but I need to be in a real city once in a while. I have places I like to go and things that I do every time I visit, but we did try some new things this year...

The Pizza Farm!

I've been wanting to go ever since I heard about this place a few years ago, but we were never in MN on a Tuesday evening in the summer. We had a lovely drive to Stockholm, WI along the Mississippi and Lake Pepin. It was a bit of a drive, and we were all wondering if the pizza could really be worth driving all that way. Luckily it was flippin' AMAZING! They grow all of the ingredients on the farm and bake the pizzas in a brick oven. The pizza farm lived up to and exceeded years of expectations. We're hoping to make it a yearly tradition.

Restaurants on Central Avenue 
After college, I worked for the Main Street program on Central Avenue NE revitalizing the corridor, providing business assistance, and promoting Central Avenue as a place to shop, dine and do business. Central Avenue (and all of Northeast Minneapolis) has changed so much in the past 10 years. There is new life and energy there that I think were hard to imagine ten years ago. Old favorites are still there like Holy Land and Crescent Moon and others have moved on or closed. We tried the Thai restaurant Sen Yai Sen Yek for excellent curry and pad thai and the Ecuadorian restaurant Chimborazo where Llapingachos were a big hit.

Happy Hour at Gather at the Walker Art Center
An urban view, killer cocktails and mini banh mi. A perfect way to spend an evening! I honestly can't remember what my cocktail had in it, but it was the best cocktail I've had in a long time - not too sweet or strong. It made me consider breaking out of my bourbon and red wine ruts.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fair! 2012

So true!

We are back from my much anticipated and most beloved annual Labor Day trip home to Minnesota. I was going to write about visiting home after not going for so long and all of the fun stuff we did in Minneapolis, but I really don't think I can let a year go by without capturing our annual visit to the Fair!  Here are some scenes from the best state fair ever! Minnesotans are a lucky people!

Once a year isn't often enough!
I miss MPR
Pup toast 2012
A seriously HUGE cabbage

A new addition this year was a photo shoot featuring us (mostly me) reacting to fun Fair! finds:
Seriously! This duck is too cute!

Another new addition was a Fair app - thank you googly phones!

Apparently, it wasn't ALL carefree fun though. Look at this shot Andrew caught of us looking a little stressed.

Nothing another pronto can't cure!

Looking forward to 2013...
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